RPS president Professor Claire Anderson has described its independent review of member participation and communications as ‘tough reading’.

The review found that boards and members felt that they were not informed or included in RPS decisions until after they were made. It recommended that RPS be more proactive and transparent in its communications, as well as suggesting that it reviewed its governance system ‘as a priority’.

Led by communications consultancy Luther Pendragon, the review looked at how the RPS communicates decisions made on behalf of the profession through its governance boards.

The review found that 68% of members wanted to participate in the decisions the RPS takes on their behalf, but said that the organisation’s ‘complex and cumbersome governance construct creates opacity and disengages members on the decisions made on their behalf’.

‘Although not part of the scope here, we would suggest that governance be reviewed and addressed as a priority’, the review added.

The report, based on a members’ survey with over 1,300 responses, and subsequent focus groups and interviews, gave 28 recommendations based on four strategic principles:

  • Take a proactive and considered approach
  • Be more open and transparent
  • Build member equity and agency
  • Focus on collaboration and be visible.

It recommended more frequent communications with external stakeholders around key organisational decisions, but warned the RPS was overly reliant on social media to communicate with members.

In particular, the review recommended that the RPS reconsider posting live from meetings on a point-by-point basis, which it said that elected members found ‘unhelpful’ and felt ‘that it can provide a fait accompli to issues they believe still require debate’. Instead, it suggested the RPS use group emails to summarise decisions and next steps.

The review also found that members felt that Scottish and Welsh voices were underrepresented.

Professor Anderson said the report ‘makes tough reading in places’, adding: ‘I am left in no doubt that the RPS needs to improve the way we involve and inform our members and stakeholders of the work and decisions taken by RPS.

‘It’s clear that our decision-making processes needs to be more transparent to engender greater trust. Accountability about decisions taken by the organisation at National Country Board and Assembly level are considered opaque at best. I recognise that our own elected members feel disempowered.

‘The RPS initiated the independent review as we fully recognised that the way our decisions have been taken and communicated have sometimes caused concern amongst members and stakeholders. It was crucial to identify why and where this was happening and equally important that we received advice and guidance on how these issues can be remedied and our approach to communications and engagement improved.’

She said that the RPS Assembly met today and agreed to ‘look at how we can make change happen’, promising that some would be made ‘swiftly’ and to create a timeline for changes to be made.

The RPS will  hold a special Assembly meeting before the end of 2022 ‘specifically to hold ourselves to account for implementation of changes,’ she added.

She continued: ‘I want to thank everyone who gave their time to give us feedback. I am heartened that so many people care deeply about the RPS. Some are generous in their praise of certain aspects of what we do and willing to work with us to improve the areas in which we need to do better.’

The review also suggested that the RPS should ‘find ways of bringing together pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to speak with one voice wherever possible, while still recognising the different skills and roles of both.’

It said that the RPS should meet with the Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) within three months, ‘with the aim of securing an agreement to produce more joint statements going forward and engage policymakers together’.

It continued: ‘Interviewees were clear in their view that given the direction of travel in pharmacy with greater expectation and responsibility being placed on both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, including technicians in the RPS made sense.’

Yesterday, the RPS published its submission to the Independent Commission on Pharmacy Professional Leadership, which argued for the inclusion of pharmacy technicians within the RPS.

In a statement, the APTUK said that it had not been consulted on this proposal.